Charles Banks
Charles Banks
Innovation & Trends

Charles is a Co-Founder, a fourth generation foodie, an expert in food futures and a ‘champion of change’. Cooking at his mother's side in the kitchen is where Charles' obsession for food began!

He and his business thefoodpeople are known for shifting the future of food and drink by harnessing the power of trends. Charles has spent the past 30+ years in the food industry working across all sectors including food service, fine dining, hotels, food brands and food retailing.

thefoodpeople, established for over 16 years, are a global trends business, specialising in future foresight in the food and beverage sector. A united group of trend spotters and innovators, we’re a team of psychologists, chefs, marketeers, product developers, academics, flavourists, historians and anthropologists. But more than that TFP are ‘champions of change’ that bring their inherent experience and human intelligence to foresight, as well as an obsession for food and drink, natural curiosity, intuition and tenacity. This is underpinned by our vision ‘to shift the future of food and drink’. What drives us is our desire to shape a better future across society by harnessing the power of trends.

thefoodpeople operate globally supporting brands, retailers, manufacturers, hospitality operators and even governments and not-for-profit organisations, to identify the trends of today and yesterday, build the foresight for tomorrow and the future so that they can act now, to make transformational impact to their business and the wider industry.

In addition, Charles co-founded thefoodpeople Foundation in 2020, partnering with affiliated charities and our community, to shift food, health and education in schools, to impact future generations.

Charles adds “The reason that “thefoodpeople” exists is because we’ve been in your shoes. We know what it’s like; we know it’s not easy identifying and activating trends. It’s a fact that consumers are moving faster than industry, so decoding your businesses place on the future horizon and designing brilliant but nimble business models, strategies, and developing deep, value-based connections with consumers are essential traits of innovators both today and tomorrow. So do the most powerful thing a business can do – champion & harness change, don’t let it harness you”.

Why are you on board Future Food Movement?

I’m not sure how you could fail to be on board! The sustainability of the planet is dependent on re-balancing the symbiosis between the needs of humans and nature, having a sustainable food system is critical to this but still education is in its infancy and as we know information and knowledge is power, it enables and informs change, once you know and understand you can un-know! There is a very real, current and future opportunity drive a radical shift in our food system by uniting the likeminded, to inspire new norms, new expectations and new possibilities with ‘regeneration’ at its heart for a sustainable food future.

How does thefoodpeople drive change?

We established thefoodpeople in 2004 on a single purpose – to shift the future of food and drink by harnessing the power of trends, to inspire what we call ‘champions of change’ within the industry to make a positive choice to improve food and drink for the future – healthier, more sustainable or a better experience – to make transformational impact not only for them, their brand/business but for people and for society. We identify the trends of today and yesterday, to build the foresight for tomorrow and the future and, we take this responsibility to industry and society extremely seriously – its our foundational purpose. So I think we spent 18 years inspiring change if I’m honest.

Do you have any thoughts around what impact do you think consumers can have on the transition to a sustainable food system?

Make the source relevant – industry must be transparent about the origins of a products journey and gain consumers trust. Build honest and genuine stories that are rooted in human needs and priorities to engage consumers in supporting better sourcing and production practices at an emotional level but in a way that they can understand and is relevant to them.

Make better food accessible – many consumers would like to change their lifestyle to be more sustainable by reducing their impact on the environment and the climate. But even as consumer desire for a more sustainable lifestyle grows, eating more sustainably remains out of reach for some people. The smart brands will define ‘better affordable products’ as those that are better for the animal, the consumer (nutrient density and taste) and communities. Smart brands will work tirelessly to remove price, variety, and geographic barriers to ensure ‘better’ food is accessible to everyone

Make the experience engaging and empowering - New levels of access to information have transformed how consumers make food choices. Now, they’re hungrier to take personal accountability for impact behind food products before purchasing. Brands that deliver on consumers’ desire for engaging, honest, fact based education will win their love and loyalty. Brands must stand out in this space – they must be aware, addictive and alive not just in food but also in culture.

Make circular consumption easier - Consumers are reconnecting with the source of their foods and gravitating to brands that support healthy, equitable food and production ecosystems. Industry has an opportunity to create impact across the full food journey, from distribution to consumption to waste and beyond.